Cattle feeding, Geis operates feedlot south of Worland
Worland – Nick Geis is deeply involved in the agriculture community in Washakie County. From his involvement farming to the large feedlot he runs, Nick focuses on working hard to accomplish his goals.
“We farm about 800 acres, and I feed between 3,000 and 4,000 cattle each year,” Nick says. “I also have a cow/calf operation that I run on the farm.”
Nick hasn’t always been involved in the feedlot and farming business.
“I used to haul livestock for years,” Nick says. “Grandpa started that trucking company in 1945, so my family has been in agriculture for forever.”
After 20 years in the livestock hauling business, Nick notes that he began working for his father-in-law’s farming business, later going out on his own.
“I fed cattle for a year or two, quit for two years and then came back to the feeding business,” he comments. “Since then, I’ve continued to feed cattle.”
Cattle feeding is the major part of Nick’s business.
“I’m hooked in with several companies in Nebraska and Montana,” he explains. “They buy calves, and I background them.”
When calves come to Nick’s feedlot, he notes that they are freshly weaned, and he prepares them for their next steps in life.
Nick vaccinates and makes sure they are healthy.
“All of the cattle I have this year are all natural, so that gives us other challenges,” Nick comments. “If I give any of them antibiotics for anything – whether it is for foot rot or pink eye – they are out of the program.”
To attempt to prevent disease, calves are provided two round of vaccines within their first two weeks in the lot.
“After I get them straightened out, the calves go to JBS Feeders in Greeley, Colo.,” he explains. “Then, I get another load in March and April of grass calves.”
Nick feeds calves until May or June each year, and during the summer, the feedlot is usually empty. New loads of calves begin to arrive in September, and the cycle starts over.
“In the summer when we don’t have cattle, I can concentrate on farming,” he adds.
Sugarbeets are the crop of choice for Nick because they work in the Bighorn Basin. He also raises malt barley.
“Sugarbeets and malt barley are my cash crops,” he says. “They are the crops that provide the cash to help our operation through the year.”
“I’m one of the owners of Wyoming Sugar Company, and I supply beets to the mill,” he explains. “We raise the sugarbeets, and in turn, we get the pressed pulp back.”
The pressed pulp works in well with the feeding operation, Nick notes.
“The pulp is excellent cattle feed, and it is a cheap source,” he says. “It is a great fit for me.”
His farm ground is irrigated under two pivots and by flood irrigation.
Though efficiencies have increased by utilizing flood irrigation, Nick notes that water continues to be a challenge.
“We do have a good water source in Worland,” he says. “All of our water comes from Boysen.”
Nick says that technology has also helped other aspects of the operation.
“Since the advent of Roundup Ready sugarbeets, alfalfa and corn, we can spray those crops,” he explains. “This has all really changed farming.”
“I’m not looking to expand, but I plan to continue to do what I’m doing as long as I can,” Nick says.
Nick adds that he has streamlined his operation to a smooth-running system.
“The feedlot generates the manure that I put on fields,” he explains. “In turn, I raise crops to feed the cattle, and the cycle goes around and around.”
While Nick notes that he doesn’t raise corn for grain to feed, he tries to purchase his feed from as close to home as he can.
“I try to buy my feed local and help my fellow farmers out here,” he says.
While there are a number of hurdles to jump daily, Nick says his biggest challenge is the EPA.
“Any operation over 999 animals must be permitted by the EPA, so I deal with them a lot,” he says. “As long as I keep up on my records, they don’t lean on us too badly.”
However, EPA also regulates groundwater and a variety of other aspects of the feedlot, including encroachment of subdivisions.
“That is just part of our life, though,” Nick says of the EPA.
Nick says that agriculture is a lifestyle he enjoys and plans to continue.
“I was born and raised in ag, and I’ve stayed right here,” he says. “The last couple of years, we have made good money in the commodities, and sugarbeet and cattle prices are up.”
He adds, “It looks like we might cycle back down in the commodity market, but cattle feeding offsets all of that.”